Today, American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young released the following statement regarding President Obama’s announcement of the ConnectED: Library Challenge initiative to ensure that all school students receive public library cards through their schools:
We are encouraged by President Barack Obama’s announcement to ensure that all students have access to the wealth of reading materials, educational assistance and digital resources made available through our nation’s public libraries. We support the initiative’s calls on public libraries, school administrators and government leaders to work collaboratively to create seamless learning opportunities for all of their students.
Learning does not end in the classroom—in fact, the nation’s libraries create dynamic learning environments by bringing together trained information professionals, collections of print and online resources and free access to high-speed Internet. Furthermore, studies show that children who use the library perform better in school and are more likely to continue to use the library as a source of lifetime learning. Unfortunately, too many vulnerable students do not have library cards. One study found that the most powerful demographic predictor of library card ownership is poverty—more than 60 percent of children living below the poverty level did not have a library card.
We are appreciative that the Administration recognizes the role libraries play in meeting the daily educational and technological needs of many low-income American students. We know that more than 75 percent of K-12 teachers have assigned Internet-required homework, yet only 54 percent of those teachers say that all of their students have sufficient access to digital tools at school. We also know that many parents struggle to provide their children with the digital resources that they need to succeed—nearly 40 percent of all Americans do not have access to high-speed broadband Internet at home.
ALA calls on school and public library leaders to work collaboratively with school administrators and civic leaders to ensure that each and every student has a public library card.
Read the White House fact sheet for more information on the initiative. Moving forward, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will convene a meeting of the national library, government and school leaders to discuss best practices for developing and implementing school-public library card programs in their local districts. Learn more about IMLS’ efforts to implement the ConnectED: Library Challenge.